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Find out what we’ve been up to in our latest blog post

Set For An Adventure

As the dusky bluebells fade in our local woods, we get ready to put plan b into action. We are getting pretty good at implementing a plan b these days. Perhaps that’s called resilience? We didn’t get our funding for our exciting summer production, so instead we have come up with another idea.

Often it feels like we have so many ideas and when I look back I wonder how we got to the end result? Creativity is like a seed. Give it enough love and attention and something will eventually bloom. So, as we look forward to the next few months, what will you give your time and effort in order for something to grow?

Blubells fill the bottom of the photo as they sit amongst the trees. A dappled light gives the bluebells a smokey look

Adventure Shack

Dusting ourselves down and picking ourselves up from a funding bid rejection means we become even more resourceful. After flexing those little creative brain cells, we are proud to bring an outdoor experience for families this summer called “The Adventure Shack”

Escape the crowds, stray from the busy paths and discover the eighth wonder of the world:

Madam MooMoo’s Marvellous Magical Market Stall!

The Adventure Shack! 

The wondrous one-stop pop-up shop for all your adventure needs! 

Except today, of all days, Madam MooMoo is unwell, and so it’s up to her loyal assistants to look after her shop. Join Prentice and Dogsbury as they unpack the unusual items from her barrow of the bizarre and discover the fantastic stories each item has to tell. 

Epic tales of adventure, mystery, magic and derring-do guaranteed to heebie your jeebies and bump your goose. If you want to follow the progress of this fun experience, then follow us on the usual social channels. If you need no more tempting? Then you can book your tickets now by clicking on the venue details below.

Markeaton Park, Derby July 20-24

Grin Low Woods (Pooles Cavern and Country Park) Buxton July 27-31

We know how hard things are for some families right now so we have made Friday afternoon at Grin Low Woods, Buxton a pay what you can performance, but you still need to book a ticket. (it’s a numbers thing!)

A cart with a jumble of objects all piled up around it. Old suitcases, lampshades, kitchenware make up the arranged items

Happenings

We are thinking of hosting skills exchange workshops. We have learnt so much over the years we thought people might be interested in attending some days/weekends/evenings where we explore some techniques we use when we create our work.
This is still a seedling of an idea, but you can help shape it. What would you like to learn? If you are up for getting creative together, then hit reply to this email and let us know your thoughts.

A sketch book with a lightbulb drawn on a page with the word "Idea" written at the top of the page

Creating In The Great Outdoors

We were lucky enough to be given the chance to create playful spaces in our local woodlands. This was as part of the Stronger Roots project with Buxton Civic Association. We have installations in the woodlands around Buxton.

A view of Gadley Woods with blue skies
Gadley Woods

The idea of creating in the great outdoors is always inspiring. The sets for our show are very temporary, so the opportunity to make something more permanent was exciting and challenging. After several site visits, we designed simple elements that would spark imagination and provoke thought. Each woodland is unique, so we decided on original designs for each space.

Gadley Woods

In Gadley Woods, we designed boards with cut outs of woodland creatures and made a huge nestlike structure with fallen trees. Corbar Woods saw the subtle installation of small wooden doors with animal footprints carved on the front of each one. Also, you can discover the two lovingly crafted benches near the forest school area in Grin Low Woods.

Two people sit on a wooden bench in GrinLow Woods with a black dog sniffing in the undergrowth

The brief stipulated no colour, so what we made highlighted the natural beauty of the patterns of the wood. The concept behind the design was to create windows into the forever changing landscape of the woodland. We set to work drawing outlines of familiar creatures and then transferred them to oak boards and cut them out using a jigsaw. The edges were rounded off and then everything was sanded. We then gave the boards a Japanese style finish called Shou Sugi Ban before coating them with Danish oil.

A collection of photos that show the outlines of animals cut out of oak planks

Never have I worked with such beautiful pieces of wood. Usually, we only work with cheap quality timber, old pallets, or plywood. What a privilege!

A group of photos that show wooden boards with animal cutouts in Gadley Woods
Gadley Woods

Corbar Woods

The little doors were fun to make. A simple idea of an animal footprint carved into the front of each door. We burnt the wood and then sanded back the footprint.

Installations in the woodlands of small wooden doors with animal prints carved on the front
Corbar Woods

We made a couple of signs using a template and a router and then used the burning technique we used on the large oak boards. A Dremel sanding tool was then used to take the wood back, so the lettering was more prominent.

A group of photos showing how the signs were made

Grin Low Woods

The benches were more of a design challenge. After chatting with the children who attended the forest school, Mark came up with a few sketches, trying to incorporate their ideas. The original site changed,and so we installed two benches on opposite sides of the pathway.

Sketch of a bench design that has a curved back and seats with leaf shapes cut out on the backrest

The result? A beautifully crafted seat we hope will bring smiles to all who use it. It’s been joyous to create installations in the woodlands, something that has a lasting legacy for the people who use Buxton Woods. May you and your families enjoy these beautiful outdoor spaces.

bench installations in GrinLow Woods
GrinLow Woods

Ready To Blossom

I love April and we are ready to blossom. Things start to feel greener, the days feel longer and it’s like we are on the starting blocks for another blossomingly good year. 
We have taken a bit of a holiday over Easter and enjoyed taking a dip in the chilly sea water. It certainly refreshes the senses. It’s always such a treat to visit the coast when you live in the centre of the country. Taking in the colours of the sea and sky are always so inspirational.

Whatever The Weather

Our work is now fully installed in the local woods in Buxton. With any luck people can enjoy them for the next few years whatever the weather. What a priviledge it’s been. The concept behind our work was to spark imagination and to get people (particularly young famililes) to look at the woods from a different perspective and then engage collectively. The cut out animal shapes give a window type view into a forever changing landscape.

The seated area in Grin Low was ambitious and exciting to build. If you come across it as you walk through the beautiful woodland know that it’s been hand crafted by people who love these woods and have a special connection to Buxton.

Thank you to Buxton Civic Association and the team behind the Stronger Roots project. You can wander, Gadley, Corbar and Grin Low Woods to discover these fun installations.

A collage of photos  of boards with cut out animal shapes situated in Gadley Wood.

A Helping Hand

We are working hard to create a more sustainable company. Looking at ways in which we can grow and transform to develop our big ideas. We have been lucky enough to meet Darren Walters, a producer and strategic developer. He has also become a helping hand as we take the decision to transform Babbling Vagabonds into charity status.

Black and white image of a notebook and pen. The book i s open and a lightbulb has been drawn on one page

Spring Has Sprung

We have been busy bees behind the scenes pollinating ideas for new projects. The weeks have whizzed by sculpting funding bids and compiling a robust business plan that can help shape the company to become bigger and brighter in 2022 and beyond.
After so much wet weather we are definately grateful for the sunny days, the colourful crocuses on The Slopes in Buxton brings a smile as we “walk and talk” to discuss our next steps on various projects.

Adventure Shack

We have submitted a funding bid to Arts Council England that builds on the work that we carried out pre covid and in lockdown.

The concept for the piece is that a time-traveller has crashed her time-machine/home and it has landed upside down. All the fittings of her home are scattered across the ceiling, which is now the floor, and all her fixtures are still on the floor, which is now the ceiling. Making a cup of tea is now much more challenging than before.

As she tries to organise her stuff she unleashes a series of flashbacks. These long-forgotten memories patch together a series of adventures and escapades that tell her story of how she travelled from a young girl dreaming of adventure and escape, to the wise and experienced traveller she is today. We want to realise this story as an outdoor summer adventure. Barnsley Civic and Greentop in Sheffield continue to support this dream, so fingers crossed that we are successful as the concept for this production is pushing our creativity and storytelling into new realms. 

Circus performer using red silks

If You Go Into The Woods Today…..

We have been lucky enough to design some installations for our local woods. Working alongside another artist that specialises in creating art in nature and Buxton Civic Association we have designed and made some features that will make walking in the woods with the family more interactive. We hope it will provide the stimulus for conversation and imagination when out for a walk.

If you venture into Gadley Woods see if you can discover the boards. I will share what the rest of our work looks like once we have installed them in their locations.

A collection of photos of cut out animal shapes on oak boards

New Year, New Adventures

As we start the new year things still feel a bit tentative. We are waiting on funding bids for projects to take flight so find ourselves with enough time to take stock and find focus. We strive to build partnerships, seek out new ones and make new friendships along the way. So although the start to this year looks quiet we will look to the horizon with hopeful hearts and find ways to conjure stories and share spine tingling new adventures with you all.

View of the hills looking out towards the leek road from Solomen's temple

Adventure Shack

Now this seedling of an idea has been brewing and bubbling for way too long so we hope that this year will give us the opportunity to unleash a story of epic proportion. We have funding bids in and on the side lines to help realise our ideas. We are hoping for good fortune and if all goes to plan we can make this production our summer offer. So keep an eye on our social channels and keep opening our newsletters to see the developments that are taking place.

Female circus performer hangs in a crucifix position from red silks

Christmas: Plan B

It was always a risk. As covid cases soared in November and December we saw our ticket sales drop dramatically. We weren’t even sure if we would end up finishing the run of “The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner” but our determination to provide a heart warming production for families shone through. That was no more apparent than when one of our actors tested positive on Christmas Eve. We are a small company and often don’t have a stage manager let alone an understudy, but this year we knew we needed a Plan B. I decided to step into the role of stage manager and as a last resort the understudy.  (You might have seen my posts on social media “Day in the life of a Stage Manager”) After performing in the last 8 shows of the run I can confirm that I definately know where I feel most comfortable. At the side of the stage and not on it!

If you came to see us in Derby thank you for trusting us to create a fun show for your family. We will continue to do our best to create memory making moments for all.

The hungry troll is disgusted when they taste sausages

Warm Festive Wishes

As I write this, productions up and down the country are being cancelled due to performers and crew coming down Covid. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? We are just praying we get to finish our run with DerbyLive and we all stay fit and healthy so we can bring some festive cheer to families.

So although there still feels great uncertainty in what lies ahead we are choosing to stay positive and find gratitude in the small things, like a sunrise on the commute to Derby. 

If we pause for a moment of reflection and look back at 2021 we can see marvellous achievements. We have managed to create and perform 6 different theatre shows this year, work through an R&D project during the covid restrictions and platform a digital projection, so we definitely feel like there’s a reason to celebrate.  

Our audiences, partners and funders make all of what we do possible, so it we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and wish you and your families  a very merry Christmas.

The Warmest  of Festive Wishes,
Tara, Mark and Phil

 A sunrise through trees along the A515 to Ashbourne

Our Hungry Troll Serves Up a Festive Treat

It’s been a joy to share this story with our audiences. What a privilege it’s been to be asked back by DerbyLive for another year of festive fun. The #DerbyLovesYou venue in the market place feels airy and spacious for  our story of The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner.

We have had such great feedback from everyone attending and hearing the reactions from some members during the show makes our hearts sings and affirms this is what it is all about. Sharing a heart warming story that then becomes a positive lasting family memory. 

Photo taken from behind the set. Looking through the window of the oven door we see two actors making beany banger bonanza!

Festive Beginnings

As we see out November and feel a cold chill in the air, we have one more treat in store to share.

Light switch ons, Christmas markets, may get us in the christmassy mood, but surely nothing says Christmas like a trip to the theatre to see our latest festive creation. The kitchen table has been covered for weeks as we design, make and craft the costumes and props for “The Hungry Trolls Christmas Dinner”… we’ve even got the kids involved!

The Hungry Trolls Christmas Dinner

Come and see us this Christmas in Derby Market Place. In a purpose built indoor theatre space we will share with you a heart warming story for all the family to remember. A tale of trolls, dinner ladies, and  yummy scrummy food. 

When a strange new dinner lady turns up to school the kids are going to get served up more than a plateful of trouble. Wait until they discover what’s really on the menu for their school Christmas dinner!

The origins of this tale comes from the ideas of school children. We held a workshop several years ago and one class came up with such a good story we knew that we had to retell it some day. We had to tame down some of the ideas as they were far too gruesome, but if you can make it to the show, you can sit and watch knowing that the seeds of ideas came from a bunch of nine year olds.

Flyer image for the show of a cartoon drawing of a Troll in a kitchen setting

The Lost Tales Of Grinlow Woods

What a fabulous time we had in Grin Low Woods. We delighted audiences and gave hearts a warm glow with our three stories. The glorious colours of the changing leaves gave an dramatic backdrop to our performances. The idea of following little tree sprites and discovering fairy doors along the pathways to find the next story have given inspiration to our friends at BCA. They are now talking about making an ever changing route around the woods for children to seek out.

Three characters dressed in hats and clothing with a woodland theme stand together and smile at the camera

Bogtastic!

Two fairies fly above a peaty bog character while 2 chiclren walk above them on a moorland

Thank You

We know some of you couldn’t make it for numerous reasons but it means a lot when families show an interest in our work.

We had a fabulous four days presenting our story and we know the weather was a bit of a shocker at times but we were bowled over by everyone’s enthusiasm come rain or shine. It was a pleasure to work alongside Moors For The Future Partnership in creating this informative piece on the important role our moorlands play in fighting climate change.

The photo is taken behind the audience. There is bunting a stage and a backdrop of greenleafed trees

Make a Bog Fairy

Don’t forget to visit our YouTube channel so you can see how to make your very own bog fairy.

If you want another resource head to our website and download a fun booklet that has been designed by Moors For The Future Partnership that gets you all thinking about the themes within our production.

Bilberry the bog fairy shows Cottongrass her family as little puppets
Bilberry the bog fairy sits next to a giant big eyed puppet called Peat

Every Summer Has A Story

So Mark got out of isolation just in time to present Here Be Dragons at Markeaton Park. It was wonderful to see families laughing and smiling and enjoying a shared moment together. I felt very grateful that we could provide a fun and safe memory-making experience for all.

As we head further into summer we adapt and change with our situation. I find myself isolating again as I’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive so we’ve had to reschedule our rehearsals for Rosie Red Boots. Not an ideal situation but just like Rosie Red Boots, I’ll keep my chin up!

Here Be Dragons outdoor family production

Bogtastic!

We are so excited to have been awarded a grant from Arts Council England to create an exciting outdoor theatre adventure for families. We are working with Moors for the Future to tell a story inspired by the biodiversity of local peat moors and the role they play in climate change. The performances will take place in Buxton Pavillion Gardens and tickets will be free but booking is essential.

Keep an eye out on our social media channels for developments on this project.

We also can’t wait to see the finished publicity image. Andy, from Karate Graphics, in Derby, has sent through his initial sketch ideas. We love how he draws his characters and brings fun and humour into his work. We feel like he is the perfect match for our company. 

Pencil drawing of the first image ideas for our theatre show Bogtatstic

Rosie Red Boots at Buxton Opera House


Is Rosie brave enough to save the day? Can she help her forest friends and bring calm once more to her home? With a little help from her cat, Rosie sets off on an adventure where she discovers that even when you are small you can make a big difference.

Join us on this mini shadow play adventure. Watch in wonder as shadows dance across a specially created screen to a captivating audio soundtrack. 

If you can’t get to the performance we are planning on making the audio story available on our website and on our YouTube channel. I’ll let you know when it goes up.

a black and white image of Mark behind a table operating shadows and lights

Stronger Roots

In October we start a project with BCA (Buxton Civic Association). We are making up a story about the woods with members of the community and are running workshops at the beginning of October and it will be free to anyone who wants to join in. We will take everyone’s ideas and weave them into a tall tale for a storytelling event in the half term.

Sunlight coming through the beech trees in Grin Low woods

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

For a long time now We’ve all been yearning for a summer adventure. We have been adapting and making ourselves flexible to deal with changing restrictions and adjusting to different working patterns and this month has been no exception. I write this newsletter in isolation as my children have tested positive for Covid. (6 days apart!) Luckily no one is very ill, and for that, I am very grateful.

We should be reworking “Here Be Dragons”, instead it is line runs over video calls and getting Phil to drop off various materials in our front garden. Distractions are plenty and focus is difficult but there are deadlines to meet and you just adapt to another way of working like everyone else. So I raise a glass of homemade lemonade to all of you and celebrate the coming of a new summer adventure.

A glass jug of homemade lemonade

Here Be Dragons

Come and seek out Mark and Phil at Markeaton Park on Wed 21-Sun 25 July. Brighten their day and spark your family’s first summer adventure. Check out DerbyLIVE’s website for times and book your tickets here. 

Join the brave zoologists, the ‘Monster Menders’ as they take care of strange and peculiar creatures. 

If you have a big imagination and are brave enough to take a step into the unknown, then this wild walk is just what your family needs. Every time you find the Monster Menders a different story is made, each tale a unique experience.

Phil and Mark dressed as the monster menders holding a suitcase which has the words "useful Stuff" written on it

Rosie Red Boots at Buxton Opera House

This has turned into such a lovely story and has been a very fun project to be involved in. Mark has been putting together the audio for this and it’s been fun recording with our kids too as they have taken on some of the voices of the characters. We had a rehearsal in June and got to grips with the soundtrack and shadows so now we can’t wait to share it with you.

Workshop : Aug 12 at 1.30pm & 3pm
Want to know how we create the magical shadow puppets in our productions? Get up close and explore behind the screen and find out exactly how we create the visual effects. Book your FREE tickets here

Performance: Aug 13 at 10.30, 1pm, 2pm
Is Rosie brave enough to save the day? Can she help her forest friends and bring calm once more to her home? With a little help from her cat, Rosie sets off on an adventure where she discovers that even when you are small you can make a big difference. 

Join us on this mini shadow play summer adventure. Watch in wonder as shadows dance across a specially created screen to a captivating audio soundtrack. Book your FREE tickets here 

a black and white image of Mark  behind a table operating shadows and lights

A Real Awakening For Students

We are always grateful for new opportunities, and none more so than working with students at Sheffield Hallam University. It was an intense 2-week process called “Awakenings” whereby a show would be presented at the end of it. A tall order considering everything students have been through these past 18 months. Using an old folktale as a starting point we transformed the Old Post Office courtyard into a theatre space. 

In a high walled courtyard, performers dressed in black carry boxes as an audience watch on

They didn’t disappoint and showed us just how willing they were to undertake the challenge. Working with students from various courses across the university they came together and devised a script, composed music, made masks, sculpted a huge puppet, and performed in it too.

A close up of a student sculpting a clay face which has over the top features of a large nose and wrinkly forehead

Adhering to the Covid restrictions meant we couldn’t have a large audience but the piece definitely bought smiles to everyone’s faces. (especially the young child on the front row who shouted out after the performance “That show was awesome!”)

A close up of a giant blue water dragon puppet behind a sea of blue fabric